Over a decade ago, ICS’s founders came together to discuss a pervasive challenge. Year after year, South Carolina’s children were realizing some of the worst outcomes in the country. Whether we looked at health, education, or abuse and neglect, our most vulnerable citizens were facing realities that could not possibly prepare them for success. But we knew we could do better, and that our children and families deserved no less.
In 2013, the well-respected Annie E Casey’s Kids Count publication ranked South Carolina as the 45th state in terms of overall child well-being. This ranking reflects measures of economic well-being, education, family and community, and health. Then for the first time, in 2017, we reached the 30s, coming in at 39th. For South Carolina, the new ranking means—among other things—33,000 fewer children living in poverty. It means 2,000 more young children accessing early childhood education.
Since South Carolina is ICS’s birthplace, we take extra heart from the progress seen in our home state. Nevertheless, we know our systems-based approach is equally powerful in our work with jurisdictions across the country. In the last year, we’ve partnered with communities from Spartanburg to Charleston, Tempe to Tallahassee, Seattle to Bridgeport, and from Oklahoma City to Orange County, CA. We’ve joined forces with those communities to bring the best research from the field to inform how to advance systems, implement new policies, and improve outcomes for young children.
Much of our work is informed by brain science and the phenomenon of resilience, so much so that we’ve started referring to 2018 as The Year of Resilience. Resilience develops when children (and adults!) face intense challenges while buﬀered from toxic stress through supportive and stable relationships. We also see the phenomenon in systems themselves. With persistence over time, supportive partnerships, and clear-eyed focus on outcomes, we will continue to build momentum for our children and their families.
You—our founding and fueling partners, clients, donors, thought partners, champions, truth-tellers, legislators, councilmembers, NGOs, jurisdictions, teammates, and friends—make the work of ICS possible. And you make the process enjoyable. We cannot adequately express our gratitude in this short note. We encourage you to read our full annual report and celebrate the victories of the last year for children while also preparing for what is next in this ongoing work.
Thank you all—here’s to the next 7 years.
Ann Robinson, Chair, ICS Board of Directors
Jamie Moon, ICS President